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Partnership to Study Biomarkers in Liquid Biopsies

Blood sample

(Public Domain Pictures/Pixabay)

6 October 2015. DeNovo Sciences, a developer of liquid biopsies and analytics, is teaming with bioTheranostics, a cancer diagnostics company using molecular biomarkers, to test the feasibility of combining their technologies. Financial and intellectual property details of the collaboration were not disclosed.

In testing for solid tumor cancers, such as lung or breast cancer, doctors will take a tissue sample of a suspected abnormality called a biopsy to analyze in the lab for the presence of cancer cells. In some cases, taking a biopsy requires an invasive surgical procedure, which may not be feasible, or an initial biopsy does not provide enough of a sample to run multiple tests.

Liquid biopsies emerged recently as an alternative to tissue samples, particularly to track changes in the molecular nature of an individual’s cancer over time, where repeated tissue samples may not be feasible. These tests, taken with blood samples, look for circulating tumor cells, cancer cells that break away from the primary tumor and flow in the blood stream, as well as genetic material with distinctive signatures indicating a type of cancer. These indicator cells, however, appear in very low concentrations in blood, requiring sensitive tests to be detected.

Both DeNovo Sciences and BioTheranostics offer cancer diagnostics designed to meet the needs of precision medicine, where therapies are customized to meet molecular targets in the patient’s cancer. DeNovo, in Plymouth, Michigan, provides a technology that analyzes patient blood samples with microfluidics — tiny chambers etched into chip-sized surfaces — that test for circulating tumor cells, as well as DNA and RNA indicators of cancer. Results of the microfluidic tests are then fed into automated imaging and analytical systems for reporting to physicians.

BioTheranostics, in San Diego, provides molecular level tests to diagnose cancer, as well as offer guidance for a patient’s prognosis. The company’s breast cancer index tests for biomarkers of genetic signatures showing potential benefits to women with breast cancer of extended endocrine therapy, as well as estimating the risk of recurrence of breast cancer in the next 5 to 10 years. In addition, bioTheranostics offers a genomic analysis to provide more clarity on the specific type of metastatic or spreading cancer being faced by the patient, where initial diagnostics may not be certain.

The partnership aims to determine if bioTheranostics’s biomarker-based tools can work with DeNovo’s liquid biopsy technology. The companies plan to conduct proof-of-concept tests to discover opportunities for further collaborations.

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